[iDC] Art and Politics

Nina Czegledy czegledy at interlog.com
Fri Dec 23 05:03:21 EST 2005

Dear All,

thanks Trebor for inviting me  to contribute.

Ever since the postings on Activism and Politics and Art,
I have been reflecting on how in a certain context
mere art practice becomes a statement of a political position
(or opposition). I refer here to my native iron-curtained Hungary
(of decades ago), where due to circumstances, activism and
resistance often meant alternate interpretations.

>From my notes:

Distance from the political establishment was an essential
feature in the life of Hungarian artists, especially those
involved in experimental art.  Communist cultural policy did
not embrace these art forms or their practitioners. As a
consequence explorers were blacklisted and contemporart art
was practiced in the most unlikely places. Abstract art was
frowned upon. To produce a monochrome canvas covered
by brown paint meant an act of defiance. For over four decades,
attempts to evade officialdom took various routes,
from underground literature, through performance art
to experimental films. Consequently during the years of
repression, art and artists became politicized through the
very act of exhibiting.

One way to understand how these forms of resistance operated
during that regime is to see society as divided into two alternative,
but parallel, structures. The very word "alternative" connotes
different meanings in different socio-political settings. In Central
Europe, during the postwar era, a wide variety of "alternative"
political and cultural movements evolved at the same time that the state
extended its tentacles into everyday life. Thus the force of the state
generated an unequal but strong reaction, an intellectual black market
as well as economic.


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